With the help of our safety partners, Arrive Alive, we share some information on nutrition and the importance of specific vitamins to ensure a healthy body and mind while driving.
The healthier we are as drivers the better we are able to remain alert and respond to any emergency situation on the road and to avoid causing these emergencies ourselves.
The role of nutrition in the health and fitness of drivers
How often, how far and how long a person drives, whether or not the driver eats regularly scheduled meals, eats at home or in fast food restaurants, whether he/she has much opportunity to engage in physical exercise, and so on, all impact a driver’s state of health and wellness. Eight of the 10 leading causes of death are related to what people eat. A healthy nutritious diet is among the most important influences on an individual’s health.
“Just as you’d pack an overnight bag with your must-have items from home, plan your road snack pack before you hit the highway.”
The best food groups to take on the road
Just as you’d pack an overnight bag with your must-have items from home, plan your road snack pack before you hit the highway. A small insulated cooler is a road-trip must-have, as are small food storage containers or resealable baggies (the snack-sized kind are perfect for portion control) to keep finger foods ready to go. Choose ones that offer a well-balanced mix of protein and good fats – a bottle of water and handful of nuts are ideal. The best snacks for a road trip are the kind that will keep you feeling full longer, so you’ll be less likely to reach for a bag of potato chips an hour down the road. You’ll not only keep your energy levels up but your belt-size intact.
It’s best to keep things light and crunchy, with carrot sticks, celery, other vegetables and cut-up fruit. Frozen grapes are great, and some chilled fruit juice or water. Simple, nourishing proteins are good too, like cheese sticks and grilled chicken, cut into bite-sized strips.
What to avoid on the long road trip
Avoid giving kids anything with lots of sugar, especially late at night. Filling up with too much liquid will cause constant calls for bathroom breaks. Avoid junk food, salty snacks and sweets. They are all packed with salt and sugar which retain water in your body. You already restrict your body’s freedom to move, so don’t make it worse. Try to avoid bringing along too many fizzy drinks or other sugary or caffeinated beverages. These can cause bloating, dehydration and sleepiness on the road as the sugar and caffeine wear off. In addition, hot foods and beverages can be dropped and burn you.
Smaller snacks or a large meal?
As far as road trips are concerned, the general rule is that smaller snacks are better than big meals – if the snacks are healthy options. At rest stops, avoid fatty foods and desserts at the diner.
The impact of your food choices on driver fatigue, mental alertness and concentration
Just as you shouldn’t put olive oil into your car to make it run, you shouldn’t put fizzy drinks into your body to make you go. Food has the ability to affect your mental clarity, mood, memory, and ability to focus. Fatty and sugary foods contribute to fatigue, and there are some foods that can boost energy and alertness. Studies show that some berries, such as blueberries, boost concentration and memory for up to five hours because the antioxidants in blueberries stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain – and keep the mind fresh.
If you want to improve your focus, you need to drink enough water. Water gives the brain the electrical energy for all brain functions, including thought and memory processes, and it has been proven to help you think faster, be more focused and experience greater clarity and creativity. Driver fatigue is caused by a combination of factors. Food is only one of the things to take into consideration when trying to combat the effects of fatigue.
This safety information was provided by Arrive Alive to promote road safety information. You can read more about Nutrition and Road Safety, Physical Fitness and Safer Driving and Driver Fatigue and Road Safety on their website.